The New York Times recently published a story reporting a US Senate investigation in regards to Wyeth, the pharmaceutical producers of Premarin traditional HRT, paying ghostwriters to put their name to articles drafted or prepared by Wyeth which underestimate the risks and over emphasise its benefits. NYT reported “While such reviews are common in medical publishing, what Mr. Grassley contends happened with the Wyeth-commissioned articles is that that expert authors whose names appear on the articles became involved only after outlines or drafts of the articles were already written.
They also quoted “Any attempt to manipulate the scientific literature, that can in turn mislead doctors to prescribe drugs that may not work and/or cause harm to their patients, is very troubling,” Mr. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, wrote Friday to Wyeth’s chairman and chief executive, Bernard J. Poussot.”
An Australian Doctor who is very outspoken and critical of bioidentical hormones has been implicated as having such an arrangement with Wyeth. The original article can be found at – www.nytimes.com/2008/12/12/business/13wyeth.html.
In a front-page story, the New York Times (8/5, A1, Singer) reports, “Newly unveiled court documents show that ghostwriters paid by [Wyeth] played a major role in producing 26 scientific papers backing the use of hormone replacement therapy in women, suggesting that the level of hidden industry influence on medical literature is broader than previously known.” The articles were drafted by a medical communications firm paid by Wyeth, and were “published in medical journals between 1998 and 2005.” They “emphasized the benefits and de-emphasized the risks of taking hormones to protect against maladies like aging skin, heart disease and dementia.” The “supposed medical consensus” created by the papers is said to have helped sales of Wyeth’s hormone drugs Premarin (conjugated estrogens) and Prempro (conjugated estrogens/medroxyprogesterone acetate) rise “to nearly $2 billion in 2001.” That “consensus fell apart in 2002 when a huge federal study on hormone therapy was stopped after researchers found that menopausal women who took certain hormones had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke.”